John C. Chao, D.D.S.

Research Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Ostrow School of Dentistry, USC

(626) 308-9104

News & Press

A New Easier Fix For Receding Gums

Rocio, a Los Angeles mother of two first noticed her gums starting to recede several years ago. "I had straight teeth, but my gums were really bad," she says. "I work in a dental office and I asked my dentist if I had gum disease, but he said no, my gums were receding, probably due to brushing too hard. My daughter was planning to be married at the time and I wanted to be able to smile for the wedding photos without feeling embarrassed about her gum recession. I wanted to express my happiness through my smile."

The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day, and flossing once. Many people assume that more is better, and brush more frequently. At the same time, they use excess pressure and a brush with a medium or hard bristle. This overaggressive brushing is no more effective at removing food particles and plaque and it can be extremely damaging to gum tissue. According to the American Dental Association half of Americans will experience some level of gum recession. Receding gums are unattractive, can cause tooth sensitivity and may even lead to eventual tooth loss. Causes include improper tooth brushing, gum disease and the natural aging process.

Rocio knew she had to do something for her gum recession but the idea of undergoing conventional gum grafting was just too daunting. That's when she learned about the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique®, a minimally invasive alternative to conventional gum grafting surgery. Treatment takes just a few minutes per tooth, and multiple teeth may be treated at the same time, all though small 'pinholes' made in the gums. Also known as "Chao Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation™ the technique is changing the way general dentists and periodontists are treating their patients for gum recession.

Until recently many people diagnosed with gum recession would decline having treatment rather than undergo conventional gum grafting surgery, which requires cutting of donor tissue from the roof of the mouth and grafting the tissue to cover the receded areas using sutures. With the "Pinhole" procedure a doctor can correct receding gums without cutting or sutures with little or no downtime required. There is virtually no pain or bleeding, and there is instant transformation of the defective gum line.

Once patients learn that their gum recession can be reversed without any scalpels or stitches they feel more comfortable about accepting necessary treatment. To date, over 1,500 doctors from across the country and around the world have been trained in the procedure.

How the Pinhole technique is done:

The patient's gum tissue is numbed with a local anesthetic and a tiny entry point, or "pinhole" the size of a ballpoint pen tip is made above or below the teeth being treated. Special dental instruments are inserted into the pinhole and used to move the gums into position and improve root coverage. The doctor then passes tiny collagen strips through the pinhole and inserts them under the gum. The collagen keeps the tissue in place until the patient’s body produces new collagen. The pinhole heals quickly and is usually undetectable within a day or two.

A 33-month study of 43 patients with 121 gum recessions using the Pinhole Surgical Technique® was published in the October 2012 issue of The International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry. The results of this study were as successful as traditional gum grafting procedures which require cutting and sutures, while patients who underwent the Pinhole Surgical Technique™ reported virtually no pain, no bleeding and high satisfaction with a rapid transformation of the defective gum line. (Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent 2012; 32: 521-531.)

The simplicity and ease of the Pinhole Surgical Technique® is encouraging patients all over the world to have needed treatment for gum recession.

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